Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Congress OKs Great Lakes deal, but is it too weak?

Will the Great Lakes Compact truly protect?

WASHINGTON -- The US House of Representatives today moved to approve the eight-state Great Lakes Compact. Two Canadian provinces are also part of the agreement, which is supposed to ban big diversions of Great Lakes water outside the basin. But a veteran member of Michigan's congressional delegation opposed the agreement as too weak.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) represents Michigan's 1st Congressional District, which has more shoreline – 1,613 miles – than any other congressional district in the continental United States and is the only congressional district in the nation that borders three of the five Great Lakes.

Stupak criticized the agreement because it allows for the diversion of water in containers smaller than 5.7 gallons. This exemption, fears Rep. Stupak, creates what he calls a 'bottled water loophole' that could allow the lakes to be depleted.

Stupak, who voted against the bill, also fears that the bill's creation of a federal definition of Great Lakes water as a 'product' would subject the water to international trade agreements such as NAFTA, GATT and WTO, and open Great Lakes water to possible privatization.

The US Senate passed the bill last month, which now goes to the President to become law.

- some info from CSM

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